Admissions yield for College grows to 47 percent, with greater diversity

The proportion of admitted undergraduate students who chose to attend the University of Chicago increased this year from 40 percent to 47 percent, reflecting greater diversity and broad enthusiasm for educational opportunities in the undergraduate College.

Such a large increase in admissions yield is unusual, and it is one indication of growing interest in the College among students of high ability around the world, said John W. Boyer, dean of the College.

“This is a sign of the College’s extraordinary strength,” Boyer said. “Students are increasingly attracted to the University’s unique combination of intellectual rigor, robust commitment to the liberal arts, and attention to student success after college, all set in one of the world’s great cities.”

Measures of diversity and academic accomplishment increased across the board for the class that will enter the College in fall of 2012. The class includes record proportions of Latino and African American students; overall, students of color account for 42 percent of the incoming class, also a new high for the College.

More students from families with low to moderate incomes will enter the College as well. Such students have additional incentive to choose UChicago because of the transformative Odyssey Scholarships program, now celebrating its fifth anniversary. The scholarships reduce or eliminate student loans for those with annual family incomes of less than $90,000. Nearly 2,000 students have benefitted from the scholarships, launched with an anonymous gift of $100 million and maintained with smaller donations.

Growing awareness of the Odyssey Scholarships has helped increase applications and yield, said James G. Nondorf, Vice President and Dean of College Admissions and Financial Aid.

“Students of all backgrounds and all income levels have more ways to choose UChicago now,” Nondorf said.

Diversity of thought is a central value at the University of Chicago, and a prime reason why the growth in diversity of the College is so vital, officials said.

College faculty members also contributed to the increase in yield, Nondorf said. Faculty in the College participated in more on-campus events for prospective students than ever before, helping to convey a distinctive sense of intellectual life at the University.

Enduring values, new initiatives help attract students

As a result of the yield increase, the size of the incoming class is projected to be about 1,525, representing a one-time increase in the number of first-years. Admissions officials had anticipated growth in yield, though the final figure represents a record increase.“The passion of these students for the University of Chicago exceeded all our expectations,” Nondorf said.

The increased yield comes in a year when the College also attracted 25,307 applications and lowered its acceptance rate to 13.3 percent — record figures for the College. Increasing numbers of prospective students and their families have chosen to visit the University as well.

Factors that may have contributed to the increase in yield include the continuing appeal of the College’s Core curriculum, increases in financial aid, more opportunities for study abroad and career preparation, and other recent initiatives that have contributed to student life in the College and across the University.

For example, the new David and Reva Logan Center for the Arts began its preview period in March, adding abundant new spaces for students interested in music, dance, theater, film, and the visual arts. The new Institute of Politics, announced in January, will be led by inaugural director David Axelrod, AB’76, who will help students pursue career opportunities in public service. The new institute will add to the success of career preparation initiatives already underway for students pursuing careers in business, journalism, health, science, technology, law and the arts.

The University’s Center in Paris and Center in Beijing have enjoyed widespread popularity among College students in recent years, as have the Civilization Programs in global cities such as Vienna, Barcelona, Pune, Oaxaca, Rome, Athens, and Jerusalem. Last year also saw the opening of the innovative Mansueto Library, which has become a campus hub for study and research.

All of those initiatives are adding to the University’s established reputation as an intellectual destination for preeminent scholars and practitioners in many fields.

“A lot went right to attract this extraordinary class of incoming students,” Nondorf said. “What’s most encouraging is that they’re coming because of who we are as a university community. That’s a permanent strength.”